When I heard the plot I was intrigued. I enjoyed the movie Pulp Fiction, which had its own darkly humorous moments. The idea of a Pulp Fiction inspired party with the regulars dressed as characters from the film seemed like a good excuse for any number of jokes. I should have known something was wrong when I saw Shirley supposedly representing the Samuel L. Jackson character. She looked stupid, not at all funny. Chang as the Bruce Willis character also looked silly. What was most disappointing was that the party never took place. And the idea Abed had of reconstructing, My Dinner With Andre, with Jeff doing almost all of the talking didn't work, imo.
For a show that already pushes the boundaries of the amount of pop-culture that you can fit into 20 minutes of television whilst remaining genuinely funny and charming, Community really went all out this week.
"Critical Film Studies" focuses on Abed's unusual birthday. On the night of his birthday, Jeff meets Abed in a high end restaurant with the expectation that something is amiss given how unlike him it is to choose such a place to meet. Intending to lure Abed away to a Pulp Fiction themed surprise party that he has planned at Britta's newly discovered and short lived place of work, Jeff encounters significant difficultly as it appears that Abed has changed.
Seemingly uninterested in Jeff's hints at the surprise that he has in store or attempts at bringing pop culture to the conversation, the middle 10 minutes of "Critical Film Studies" is essentially a condensed homage by Abed to 80's film My Dinner with Andre. Bouncing back and forth between the unusually normal conversation between Jeff and Abed and the ridiculous goings on as the gang awaits their arrival, this episode had me genuinely worried that the writers had gone for an all out jump the shark until the plot was revealed.
When the credits rolled on "Critical Film Studies" I had mixed emotions to say the least. On reflection the episode was plenty funny and Chevy Chase in a gimp outfit should be enough to get anyone to watch, but the level of commitment to a pop-culture reference here was just astounding. I will be sitting for quite a while trying to decide if this was as genius as season one's "Modern Warfare", or just plain weird?
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